Arlington ISD’s 18 PLUSS Students Create Handmade Valentine’s Day Cards for Veterans
By Office of Communication
Posted on February 12, 2024, February 12, 2024

Surrounded by foam hearts and flowers, colorful pompoms, googly eyes and glittery glue, students in Arlington ISD’s 18 PLUSS Program happily crafted Valentine’s Day cards for local veterans during a recent visit to Esports Stadium Arlington and Expo Center.

Emma, 20, carefully wrote “We appreciate you” with a blue marker inside one of her cards, which she had decorated with pink foam Xs and Os for hugs and kisses.
“It makes me happy,” Emma said, picking up a pink foam heart to begin decorating her next card.

Emma is one of about 80 students in Arlington ISD’s 18 PLUSS Program, which stands for Performance-Based Learning in Unique School Settings. The program, which serves adults ages 18 to 22, is a community-based, vocational training support option for post-high school students who are eligible for special education services. The 18 PLUSS Program partners with area businesses to provide real-world work experience or volunteer experience for the students as they work on their independent living skills. Emma and her classmates, for example, visit Esports Stadium Arlington or the nearby Sheraton Hotel twice a week to learn about working in hospitality industry.

Students also learn about the importance of making connections in their community, which is how the Valentine’s Day card-making project for the Mayor’s Veterans Task Force members and their family came about, 18 PLUSS teacher Dana Rainwater said. The students also created Christmas ornaments that were given to veterans in December.

“We are really trying to let them know much impact they make doing projects like this. To them, it’s just a fun activity,” Rainwater said.

La’Tori, 19, agreed. He and his classmates talked and laughed as La’Tori created his pile of cards featuring assorted pink and red Valentine’s Day decorations.

“I decorated them with stickers and drew lots of hearts on them,” he said.

The 18 PLUSS students learn skills while working with the food and beverage team and helping set up for events at Esports Stadium Arlington & Expo Center, which has participated in the program for two and a half years.

“It helps tie our staff to the community,” said Justin Grimsley, Esports Stadium Arlington’s general manager and assistant director.

"This group is extra happy. They are almost always in a good mood, and it makes everyone in a good mood when they are here.”

Arlington ISD, Veterans
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